Written by Jaime Domingo, CEO of UniversalPay.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a turning point in recent history, across all areas and all relationships in society.
The payments industry and the commercial sector have seen an acceleration of all the digital trends that have gradually been taking hold in recent years. In record time, we have witnessed the transformation of purchasing habits that until just a year ago we thought would take a little longer to consolidate in our country, and this has significantly accelerated the more than possible disappearance of cash.
Indeed, according to the Study on The Future of Payments 2021 prepared by UniversalPay, 8 out of 10 respondents believe cash has already been displaced in favor of electronic payment methods, especially after the health recommendations that prioritize the use of contactless payment supports and commercial practices that avoid contact between people to minimize the risks of contagion, mainly in large population centers.
This context has led to an increase in card payments, which has surpassed cash as the most common method in daily purchases, as claimed by 75% of the consumers surveyed in this study.
However, without a doubt, contactless and all other forms of transactions that enable contactless payments, such as mobile payments, have seen a rapid increase during this crisis. Specifically, 3 out of 10 buyers claim to use contactless on a daily basis, while 2 out of 10 already pay via mobile, thanks to the popularization of bank wallets, which practically all banks have enabled.
Businesses have had to quickly adapt to this transformation of payment methods, which have gone hand in hand with the demands and needs of buyers: more than 80% of the payment terminals of businesses now accept contactless transactions, a payment method that, according to the commercial network, has increased by almost 60% since the start of the health emergency.
However, the new society marked by social distancing has gone a step further: the restrictions of the pandemic have not only drastically reinvented forms of payment, but also purchasing habits as well. Multichannel, which had been the bet of commerce in recent years, has been key in this process.
For many commercial establishments, closed for long periods, the only way to reach consumers was through electronic commerce.
Thanks to virtual stores, and despite the economic crisis derived from the utility, in 2020 more than half of the businesses surveyed in The Future of Payments saw an increase in online sales, and more than 40% have increased online sales relative to physical stores.
Undoubtedly, buyers already view e-commerce as a necessary and unavoidable trend toward which all consumer habits are heading. And merchants are more than conscious of this, especially in the post-COVID-19 era, where the increase in virtual sales has caused the growth of digital payments to triple.
For this reason, the highlight of commercial relationships is digitalization, commerce, with online points of sale, and transactions, with one-click/ one-touch systems that simplify the most delicate moment of purchase and favor invisible payments.
Cards, wallets, apps, direct links through WhatsApp and social networks, QR codes—all of these were developed and implemented for the near future, but unexpectedly popularized by the pandemic, they have become the present of business relationships.